MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



Thursday, January 31, 2019

We have the right to choose our tenants, say landlords

PETALING JAYA: Landlords have hit out at claims of racism and discrimination in the practice of specifying the demographics of prospective tenants, following news that Putrajaya is drafting a new law to address racial discrimination in the property market.
They told FMT that they had the right to choose their tenants based on any criteria, including nationality, race and gender.
Nur Azizi Abdul Haji, who owns property in Kerinchi, said just because some owners prefer certain criteria does not make them racist.
“Sometimes, they make these choices to make it easy for both the owner and the tenants,” he said.
“Landlords have the right to choose who they want their tenants to be. After all, it’s their property. If there is any risk, it is the landlord who is responsible.”
He acknowledged, however, that it was not easy for those who are rejected by landlords who prefer a certain race or gender.
The Residential Tenancy Act, announced on Monday, aims to protect house buyers and renters from discrimination.
It followed incidents of landlords refusing to accept tenants due to their ethnicity.
However, Azizi suggested that instead of a law against landlords, the government enact legislation to protect landlords from tenants who vanish without a trace.
“When landlords want to file a police report against tenants, no action is taken because it is only the right of the tenant. What about us?”
Another landlord who wanted to be known as Foo said she preferred Chinese tenants due to cultural sensitivities.
“Say we only take Chinese as our tenants. If we suddenly offer rooms to Malay Muslims as well, there will be problems in terms of surroundings, hygiene and so on.
“We are not racist,” she added. “There are certain things that we need to take into account.”
Siti Kariman, meanwhile, has been renting out her apartment in Sungai Besi to Malay Muslims for seven years.
She said she opened her doors only to Malays because she did not want her Malay Muslim tenants to feel uncomfortable in the presence of other races.
Like Foo and Azizi, she said landlords have the right to choose their tenants.
Rais Yeop Johari, a probationary estate agent, concurred.
“The property belongs to the landlords, so they have the right,” he told FMT. “Tenants should find other places if they are refused a property.”
He also questioned the need to act against landlords for having certain preferences in renting out their property.
“It is the right of the owner. It is a matter of democracy. Tenants should be following the rules imposed by owners.”
Rights group Pusat Komas, on the other hand, welcomed the government’s move to draft the act, calling it a first step towards eliminating racial discrimination.
“The drafting of such laws will ensure that everyone in Malaysia, regardless of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, enjoys equal footing in human rights and fundamental freedom in their public life.
“Laws and policies promoting equality are essential in the New Malaysia.”
It added that the government should consult the relevant stakeholders when drafting such laws and policies, to ensure that they are in line with international standards. -FMT

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